May 14 - Women break in to the world of personal protection in Colombia, becoming bodyguards for those whose lives could be at risk. Sharon Reich reports.
They're a new breed of hired guns. Fierce Colombian women doing what has long been thought of as a man's job. Nine females are now part of Colombia's National Protection Unit where they guard the lives of those at risk. Rafael Perdomo has been training the new team to make sure they are in top shape. SOUNDBITE: Rafael Perdomo, National Protection Unit Instructor, saying (Spanish): "Their commitment is fundamental and their level of observation is even superior and it is interesting to see how they are disciplined and reserved with the issue of security." The unit sought females for the job to help protect victims of abuse as well as young children, who might feel more at ease in the presence of a woman. Laura Pineda is one of the new recruits. She has a son of her own and says that while she endures the same rigorous training as her male counterparts her gender adds a new dimension to security. SOUNDBITE: Laura Pineda, body guard, saying (Spanish): "It's a topic that fascinates me, the issue of guns, and all the adrenaline and all that one needs, but also the preservation of life is an interesting topic and I think that as women we can bring great things to this work." Women still make up a small percentage of the bodyguards working at the government safety and security office. But reports show that the female recruits have excelled at their work, guarding politicians, activists and journalists among others.